Every four years, with some exceptions, an extra day gets added to the month of February, resulting in that year being 366 days instead of the normal 365. For 2016 however which is a leap year, the leap day is Monday, February 29, 2016. The origin of the leap year as it’s known today dates back to the 16th century and was adopted to resolve a lag created by the Gregorian calendar, the standard calendar for most of the world for the past 500 years. You probably don’t know how it came about, why February was chosen for it, what people born on leap days are called and many more. To put to rest the confusion, INFORMATION NIGERIA brings you 8 interesting things about the day you should know…
– February 29 is a date that usually occurs every four years, and is called leap day. This day is added to the calendar in leap years as a corrective measure, because the Earth does not orbit around the sun in precisely 365 days
– The reason for the leap year comes down to the earth’s revolutions around the sun. The exact time it takes the Earth to make a full orbit, known as a solar year, is about 365.242199 days, or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds, according to Time and Date.
– The extra time is about the equivalent of an extra quarter of a day, meaning that every four years, the calendar has an extra day to make up for.
– The first civilization to recognize the leap year was the ancient Egyptians, according to Info Please. The Romans later adopted the practice into their calendar and designated Feb. 29 the official leap day.
– This is not a perfect system because if the leap day rule was simply observed every four years, it would add an additional day to the calendar every 128 years. Therefore, the rule was tweaked a bit to exclude years divisible by 100, unless also divisible by 400. The change has allowed the calendar to skip a leap year every few hundred years.
– All the other months in the Julian calendar have 30 or 31 days, but February lost out to the ego of Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. Under his predecessor Julius Caesar, February had 30 days and the month named after him – July – had 31. August had only 29 days. When Caesar Augustus became Emperor he added two days to ‘his’ month to make August the same as July. So February lost out to August in the battle of the extra days.
– People who are born on February 29 are referred to as “leaplings”, or “leapers”. In non-leap years, many leaplings choose to celebrate their birthday on either February 28 or March 1, while purists stick to February 29 for the occasion.
– For centuries, astrologers believed children born on leap day have unusual talents, unique personalities and even special powers. The poet Lord Byron was born on a leap day, as were rapper Ja Rule and footballer Darren Ambrose.
Did you know that there is a belief in Nigeria that leap years have a greater risk of death and that calamities were bound op happen on such years???